A classic way that college students procrastinate is by endlessly watching videos on YouTube. While our subscription boxes may only contain videos from YouTubers such as PewDeiPie or Jenna Marbles, our own College boasts minor YouTube celebrities who you may want to subscribe to.
Nicole Albrecht ’16, documents her vegan lifestyle on her channel, “Nicole Albrecht.” The content ranges from vegan makeup reviews to vlogs to Q&A sessions with her viewers.
She became vegan in May 2014 after being inspired by other YouTube videos promoting its health benefits.
“I had my blood pressure measured, [which said that] I had hypertension. That was kind of the wake up call that I needed,” she said, “so I decided to go vegan for health reasons.”
Albrecht struggled with binge eating in her underclassmen years and saw going vegan as a way to get past unhealthy eating cycles of restriction and binging.
“I was seeing results from going vegan … both in my mindset, and in physical terms,” she said.
Albrecht was also able to connect with her viewers by sharing her struggles concerning food and body image.
“In high school I was in online communities that were very unhealthy, like thinspo and fitspo,” Albrecht said. “I wanted to share my experience with how veganism helped me with my binge eating disorder.”
Thinspo is short for “thin inspiration,” fitspo meaning “fitness inspiration.” These internet communities are all over Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, other social media websites and various forums. They usually include pictures of people (mostly women) who are considered thin or fit, or phrases meant to be inspiring to one’s health goals. Some thinspo and fitspo content could be considered supportive and beneficial, but more often it propagates unrealistic beauty standards and affirms unhealthy thinking for those with eating disorders and body image issues.
The response from Albrecht’s viewers after sharing her story has been overwhelmingly supportive and positive.
“A lot of people were like, ‘Thank you so much, I’ve struggled with this but no one has ever talked about this,’” Albrecht said.
Another Grinnellian YouTuber, Marc Chamberland, Mathematics and Statistics, created a channel called “Tipping Point Math,” which includes videos that apply mathematical theories to real life situations.
“A lot of young people watch YouTube … [and] I’ve been interested for a while in the idea of trying to popularize math,” Chamberland said.
Chamberland started his channel in March 2014 after talking to Henry Reich ’09, the alum behind “MinutePhysics,” which boasts over three million subscribers.
“He came by two or three years ago for a talk,” he said. “I wanted to make a math YouTube channel and we talked about it, so I eventually got my act together and started.”
Both are proud of the videos they have created.
“Something that I’m really proud of is probably my depression video,” Albrecht said. “It’s really raw. I don’t think it’s the best video that I have, but I think its something you rarely see on the Internet, just because everyone thinks they need to conform to some sort of persona and they rarely show the genuine side of themselves.”
Chamberland highlighted his most popular video, named “What’s the Best Paper Size?” It discusses the difference between U.S. size letter paper, which is used by the U.S. and Canada, and the A-series paper, which is used by most other countries.
“I talked about why mathematically the A4 paper is better than 8.5×11 … and took a few friendly jabs at the U.S.,” said Chamberland, who is Canadian.
This video went viral and now has over 300,000 views.
“It made it to the front page of Reddit’s video page,” he said. “All of a sudden my numbers just started exploding on that video … and on one day I had a quarter of a million views.”
Chamberland feels that there is a lack of entertaining videos about math on YouTube, and he sees it as an untapped market he would like to fill.
“I’ve applied for a grant from the innovation fund of the College … so I can hire students to help me make more videos,” he said. “I think it would be great if math professors or high school teachers could throw some of these in their courses.”
For those who would like to try their hand at starting their own channels to become the next YouTube sensation, Albrecht offers advice.
“Just do it. You don’t need a DSLR camera. But make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons,” she said. “If you’re only doing it for money, realize that you’re probably going to burn out real quick, because it is pretty competitive to get famous on there. If you’re really passionate about something, just film yourself and the followers will come.”